Rabbit haemorrhagic disease confirmed in the Comox Valley

The virus has also been confirmed in Nanaimo and Delta

The B.C. government has confirmed that dead feral rabbits found in the Comox Valley died of rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

The disease was first confirmed in Nanaimo in late February, where more than 300 feral rabbit carcasses were discovered near the Vancouver Island University campus. The bunnies were sent to the Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford, where it was confirmed they had developed rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

The highly contagious and lethal virus causes hemorrhages by affecting the rabbits’ blood vessels and attacking the liver and other organs.

Dead rabbits found in Delta were later confirmed to have had died from the same virus.

Read More: Province warning rabbit owners after confirmed cases of deadly virus

Residents in Courtenay, (located about 100 kilometres north of Nanaimo), reported a spate dead rabbit sightings near the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds two weeks ago, stoking concerns that the virus discovered in Nanaimo had moved up-Island.

Read More: Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns

Jane Pritchard, the chief veterinary officer for the B.C. government and the executive director of the Plant and Animal Health Branch, says the virus is highly contagious to rabbits.

“We knew it was very contagious when we had the first confirmation, so it’s really not a surprise that it’s moved,” she said. “It certainly is a mystery how it’s moved, as Nanaimo and Comox aren’t exactly side-by-side.”

According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, this is the third confirmed case of the virus and the first in B.C.

“The disease is exclusive to rabbits,” reads a FLNRORD press release on March 28. “Humans and other animals, including dogs and cats, cannot be infected. The virus affects only European rabbits, and is not known to affect native North American rabbits.”

Pritchard noted that B.C. veterinarians will have access to vaccinations for the disease in the coming weeks, and will be able to vaccinate pet rabbits.

“There will be a vaccine coming in from France that provides some protection against the strain two of the virus that we have detected. [Pet rabbit owners] should probably be consulting with their veterinarian over the possibility of vaccination as protection,” she said.

While there is no threat to humans, in addition to rabbit owners taking precautions, the public is advised not to move domestic rabbits into the wild at any time.

As well, rabbit owners should take precautions when disposing of any rabbit remains.

Rabbit owners who want more information about how to keep their pets safe can consult with their veterinarian, or review an SPCA factsheet on rabbit hemorrhagic disease here.

Just Posted

Elkford ED closure “unusual”

The 24-hour closure of the Elkford emergency department has been described as an “unusual situation”.

Two fires of note burning in Southeast Fire Centre

As of Saturday afternoon there were more than 20 fires burning in the Southeast Fire Centre.

Fires highlight need for more volunteers

Short-staffed volunteer fire departments in Elk Valley, South Country rely on mutual aid

Motorcyclist grateful to be alive, thanks fellow drivers

Over a dozen people stopped to assist Lori Hann after she tumbled off her bike on Hwy 3, Saturday

Local athletes ready for BC Summer Games

Twenty-four athletes from the Elk Valley and South Country will compete at the 2018 BC Summer Games.

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

The Free Press editor wins awards

Editor Phil McLachlan has been recognized at the 2018 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.

Police confirm girl, 8 others injured in Toronto shooting; shooter dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Most Read